First Envi Case Against Mining Giants

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SURIGAO CITY – Hundreds of residents from a village in Surigao del Norte will storm the hall of justice here to file an ‘environmental case’ against three mining companies and a government agency at around 9:30 am, Tuesday.

Calling themselves the Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force, Inc. (Abakataf), the complainants from barangay Anislagan, in Placer town, Surigao del Norte, will file an injunction ‘mandamus’ class suit against Manila Mining Corp. (MMC), Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources (KCGR), Silangan Mindanao Mining, Inc. (SMMC) and the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and some of its top officials in Caraga.

A multi-sectoral environmental watchdog organization opposed to mining activities, Abakataf has been on the forefront in anti-mining struggle for almost 10 years.

Abakataf’s filing of the complaint will put to test the newly Supreme Court-promulgated environmental case proceedings (environment courts) and how it will properly address this kind of cases.

Abakataf has claimed that the DENR 13 granted permits to MMC to explore the mineral-rich Anislagan without even a proper legal consultation with the residents in the area.

MMC—a subsidiary of Lepanto Group of Companies—was issued two exploration permits (EPs; XIII-014 and XIII-014A) by the DENR-Caraga, which also granted an EP to KCGR and Silangan Mining.

KCGR is a joint venture of MMC and Anglo American, a British mining company.

In their 14-page complaint, Abakataf said the DENR has given EPs to said mining companies despite the community’s strong opposition to the mining explorations.

Abakataf feared that mining activities will affect their farms and will have adverse impact on Anislagan’s forest areas and water sources.

The residents of Anislagan quickly voiced their objection when on Sept. 26, 2000 MMC expressed their intent to conduct mining exploration in the area.

Inspite of the opposition, the local government units (LGU) and their constituents were dismayed upon learning that the DENR through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued MMC a temporary EP on Dec. 29 of that same year.

The following year, the Sangguniang Bayan of Placer passed an ordinance that would protect the watershed and communal forest in the whole municipality of Placer. In support of this, the LGU of Anislagan also approved a barangay resolution declaring the Anislagan watershed as a protected area.

Notwithstanding local legislations, the MGB has issued EPs to MMC and KCGR, and to Silangan Mining for an exploration in the town of Tubod, Surigao del Norte.

In response, the people filed numerous cases specifically against MMC but it has remained unfazed in its exploration activities.

Now resorting to the “Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,” the people of Anislagan are hoping that the court will finally act on their prayer to put a stop to the mining activities in their area.

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center- Kasama sa Kalikasan/
Friends of the Earth-Philippines ( LRC-KsK/FoE-Phils)

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